Thursday, November 26, 2020

"What's Too Much" by Smokey Robinson

Song#:  3330
Date:  11/14/1987
Debut:  90
Peak:  79
Weeks:  10
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Robinson would earn his second solo gold album with One Heartbeat. The LP featured back-to-back Pop Top 10 hits, which was a first for Robinson as a solo artist. He tried to keep the streak going with this third single from the album, but it wasn't able to capture the same audience who liked the first two singles. While the song did okay at R&B (#16) and AC (#15), it just couldn't get anywhere on the Pop chart and after a little over two months the song disappeared. Still, the One Heartbeat (#1 R&B/#26 Pop) album proved to be his second best solo effort after 1981's Being with You (#1 R&B/#10 Pop).

ReduxReviewOne Heartbeat was a strategic album for Robinson. The two hits from the album were written by outside songwriters and most likely selected for their chart potential. The balance of the album was written or co-written by Robinson, which included this third single (co-written with Ivory Stone). His songwriting skills were spotty during the 80s, but this track was a solid one for him. The slinky song had a slightly jazzy feel similar to tunes from Sade. It fit his voice well and the light-handed 80s production was appropriate. I thought it was a good, memorable song, but the subtle tune may not have been the right fit for Pop. It should have done better on all the charts.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Robinson wouldn't issue out another solo studio LP until 1990, however, he stayed active recording a few songs with other artists. In 1988, he did a duet with Dolly Parton for her album Rainbow. They performed "I Know You By Heart," which was written by George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam along with Dean Pitchford. Merrill and Rubicam were on a hot streak writing a pair of #1's for Whitney Houston while also scoring their own hits as the duo Boy Meets Girl. "I Know You By Heart" seemed like a sure bet coming from Parton and Robinson, but when released as a single, it failed to make a big impression.. The best it could do was reach #22 on the AC chart. For the album, Parton also did a cover of a song originally written by Robinson. She recorded "Two Lovers," which Mary Wells took to #1 R&B/#7 Pop in 1962. Rainbow was one of Parton's worst performing albums of her career. It was released around the time as her failed TV variety series. She would finally set aside her pop/mainstream ambitions to refocus on country music and in 1989 she returned with the gold-selling #3 country album White Limozeen. Her next two non-holiday studio albums would return her to platinum status.


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